Live Reviews


Intrepid Fox, London – 22/08/13

by Alan Hicks


You know those ‘one man and his dog’ events sandwiched between festivals during any given summer? You know, the ones which see most of the fans sitting at home counting pennies or shrugging at the mere thought of seeing a few bands when they can see any one of a hundred or so at the next 3 day music marathon?

Tonight isn’t one of them as a nicely filled out room pays homage to 3 very different acts.

When openers SHADOWSTRIKE (6/10) appear on stage the crowd are still trickling through the doors but once they are in they stay in as they are met with an excitable mix of early 80′s NWOBHM and hard rock and a very melodic take of the genres it must be said. The trad metal hand may have been sorely overplayed in the last five years but ShadowStrike utilise the hand held keyboards to such a level it sees the majority of the Praying Mantis meets Kamelot melodies cling hold of those in front of them and refuse to let go.

Singer Steve Ashby is something of a giant up front and centre, his red shirt acting as a homing beacon in one of the darkest venues in London. Guitarist Paul Wilson shows some nice touches with the solos sometimes cutting through the mirk. The band are far from being the finished article but there is an indisputable freshness about what they do. With time on their hands to hone their style, beef up their sound and add to their existing songs, it’s possible there won’t be many unsigned bands you will want to see more than ShadowStrike this time next year.

Being the London home of the official Bloodstock club night ‘Club Serpent‘ makes the Intrepid Fox the perfect venue for SECOND RATE ANGELS (8) to shake off the Bloodstock grass (no mud this year thankfully). Like any band who have just trod the holy boards of any Bloodstock stage SRA seem to stand ten feet tall tonight, filling the stage with an almighty presence that only such an experience can bring.

While some promoters have stood scratching their heads at the idea of the band being too rock for metal gigs and too metal for rock gigs the band itself has taken both, squashed them down to minimal proportions and unleashed a nuclear detonation of metallised rock across the likes of London, Reading and most recently Catton Hall. Spaced apart tips its hat at Hardcore Superstar-esque sleaze but it is too damn heavy to call it rock, while Loose connection is delivered with a slight punkish snarl, Metallica style stomp and Maiden inspired guitar solos, inciting the crowd to dance, move or at the very least tap their bloody feet.

At times it can be too much to take in all at once; not the mix of styles but the tight as Hell delivery so the best thing to do tonight and any other time they play is stand with arms wide apart and let it hit you all at once (please note we didn’t actually stand like that; that would have been silly).

This makes the task of headlining even tougher for MAXDMYZ (6) whose dark alternative metal is tonight somewhat overpowered by some rocket fuelled drumming and car crushing guitars.

Although this overt heaviness is in some ways detrimental to the Ian Astbury-esque croons from front man Twister it still offers a strange welcoming hand to those in the room. Part industrial, part 90s Brit metal and part garage rock Maxdmyz don’t so much fuse those modes into a cohesive state but instead unleash them in part to the crowd in sometimes terrifying states of control, like a pane of glass falling from a great height but on contact with the ground the shards somehow end up in the same place.

On stage it is mainly Twister who bends his body across the boards as if lording the chaos around him, collecting dark musings and spinning them all together for the next advance in a Iggy-come-goth manner. Those who have seen Maxdmyz many times in London over the years will admit once you start watching you don’t stop and tonight is no different.

Another great night at the Fox and considering it’s festival season, a good crowd attended. How many times can you say that in London in 2013?

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Freak Circus, Nambucca, London – 20/4/12

Freak Circus, Nambucca, London – 20/4/12

Posted on April 27, 2012 in Event Reviews

As Friday night dawned and another working week came to an end, I headed over to Nambucca for a Freak Circus. (No, I’m not being harsh, that’s the name of the night.) I had been looking forward to this gig for a while and as many of my mates would be there I knew it was going to be a good night.

First band up was Maxdmyz, and despite the band starting a bit late, there wasn’t many people in the back room at the start of the set. This began to change steadily throughout the set and I wasn’t surprised because as soon as they began an immense wall of sound hit you straight away. Though being right next to the speakers could have had something to do with that. It was a great start, but there were a few people’s ear’s that suffered from the volume after this set, mine included.

There were a couple of things that impressed me about this band straight off; first was the speed of the drums throughout, especially the bass drums, which literally left the seats at the side shaking with the rhythm. The second was the fact that the guitarist was playing a seven string guitar. Yup, not just your average six, but seven stings and let me tell you, he was all over that guitar playing with style and ease; simply fantastic to watch. I also found it interesting how their singer switched his singing style throughout the songs; sometimes simply singing, then moving to a slightly gruffer speaking style and even throwing in a light touch of death like vocals; just a little. This brought an interesting mix into the pot as you weren’t always sure where the vocals would go next.

For me the best songs were ‘AKA’ and ‘Grieve’. ‘AKA’ was apparently the first and the last song written about a woman, and it suited the subject well as it started off with a cheeky swing to it and then brought back the fast, insistent drums and guitar. The title ‘Grieve’ could conjure up images of a slow, sad song full of melancholy, but this song takes the form of the highly emotive angry kind of grieving; it’s loud, involves screaming and is full of feeling.

By now a much bigger crowd had gathered in the back room and as the set came to an end the crowd cheered and encouraged the band to get right back up on the stage for another song – and what band could resist that? So up they got and played what they described as a jam, though it sounded far too well-practiced for that. The crowd certainly enjoyed watching this band and if you like the sound of them, they will be releasing little snippets on their site over the coming months, so keep an eye out. – ROWENA L